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Vic Hayes, Founding Chair of 802.11, Inducted into Consumer Electronics Hall of Fall for Wi-Fi Development

On November 9th in New York City at a gala party sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association, now renamed Consumer Technology Association, Vic Hayes was inducted into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame. Due to family obligations in Holland, he was not able to attend and asked me to accept the award on his behalf.

The CEA magazine i3 ("It is Innovation") published a long bio of Vic and discussion of his work that is here.

There is something really unlikely about the whole early history of Wi-Fi. Vic worked for NCR, the company once called National Cash Register because that was their main product. Except for a brief foray into PC production, NCR was never in the consumer products business and was a classic B2B firm. (It is interesting that today's NCR has no interest in discussing its role in Wi-Fi and even blocked placing a plaque commemorating Wi-Fi development in one of its buildings in Holland!)

But an interest in the 1980s to sell PC-based cash registers in department stores that could be interfaced to store main frame computers focused NCR's attention on networking. Wired Ethernet was not a practical solution in such stores due to cement floors and frequent rearrangements of counters. Thus in 1987 a search began for a wireless alternative. The group involved, located in NCR's Utrecht Holland lab quickly noticed the possibility of the May 1985 FCC spread spectrum/ISM band decision as a home for such networking.

Vic was then the founding chair of the IEEE 802.11 committee that started with a handful of members and went on to develop the ubiquitous 802.11 standards that we expect everywhere we go. Vic coauthored a book on how this all came about and I strong recommend it.

Congratulations to Vic on this well deserved honor!

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